When Sprint’s Network Vision initiative was announced in October of 2011, Sprint users were told to expect LTE coverage fairly soon. According to information on S4GRU, which posts leaked Sprint information, Sprint is very far behind schedule.
The first round of 14 cities that were announced were scheduled (according to internal documents,) to be finished in February of 2013, so I figured this would be as good a time as any to post where the LTE progress stands for the initial markets.
Of the 14 markets scheduled to be completed by, and in most cases before, February 2013, LTE build outs have been completed in none of them. None of the 14 met their projected completion date, and only five of them are over 50% done after over a year of upgrades, as of this writing.
Not counting Central Jersey, which now has no scheduled estimated completion date (probably due to the hurricane), the new estimated completion dates for the other 13 cities are an average of 244 days late, or a little over eight months for the first round picks. While some are expected to be completed before the end of 2013, others still won’t be completely lit up until 2014, although Sprint is advertising that LTE is already available in those markets.
As an HTC EVO owner, I’m reminded of the WiMAX promise and subsequent delays, failures, and eventual abandonment. I’ve mostly stuck with Sprint because I wrote for GoodAndEVO, but since 2010 I’ve been hearing the promise of a fast network. Meanwhile, there are all these nifty things it would be nice to do, such as streaming my music at low quality when I can see the cell tower a block away, or perhaps even watch Netflix or receive a phone call without being next to my Airave.
Unfortunately, my area – which was announced in the second round – is delayed an estimated 14 months. It was supposed to be finished in the next few days, but instead I will be celebrating my unborn daughter’s first birthday and can potentially, assuming no more rollout delays, stream the video so her grandparents in Oregon can say hello. Yes, the example is silly, but apt.
I don’t personally know why these delays exist, or why the same thing that happened to WiMAX (which was a new and untested product) seems to be happening again to LTE (which is a tested and ready product). In any case, it’s got to stop. If Sprint is one year in and already one year delayed, imagine how late it’ll be after two years. While Sprint may not physically have the ability to get its LTE in on time, the markets where it is working on it have other LTE options available. Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet and make sharing pacts like they did with 3G, or buy more 3G bandwidth from other carriers.
I’ve been with Sprint since the beginning of 2000, and I’ve been expecting and paying for high speed I haven’t seen since 2010. If I stick with Sprint another year, I might be able to use my phone for what I should have been able to use it for now. I’ve been hearing about people being kicked off for downloading gigabytes of data on-system and wondered, “How did they manage to do that in under a year, let alone a month?” It’s not been a pleasant experience.
By the time LTE is here when I need it, my LTE phone is going to be obsolete in comparison to the market.